Michael J. Nakkula

Practice Professor
Chair, Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

Phone: 215-898-5195

Email: mnakkula@gse.upenn.edu

Professional Biography

Dr. Nakkula’s teaching and research focus on the development of resilience and the promotion of possibility development among low-income children and youth. He is particularly interested in the integration of counseling, mentoring, and educational processes in urban schools to create contexts that allow students to thrive in school and during their transition to higher education and career opportunities. Dr. Nakkula works with many national organizations to develop applied research strategies that promote the study of developmental and educational initiatives in support of optimal youth development.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Nakkula’s research has long been organized under the umbrella of Project IF (Inventing the Future), a strength-based youth development initiative. Through Project IF, Dr. Nakkula works with colleagues and organizations that share the mission of promoting and studying healthy or optimal youth development. For the past decade he has worked with John Harris, of Applied Research Consulting, to study the nature and benefits of youth mentoring. Together they have created instruments to assess mentor and protégé perspectives on the quality of mentoring relationships. They are currently studying the association between match quality and a host of educational and developmental outcomes.

Dr. Nakkula is now in the seventh year of a longitudinal study on the impact of Early College High Schools (which help urban high school students work toward an associate’s degree while earning their high school diploma) on students’ academic identity development and college success. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Education Foundation, this research is conducted in partnership with Jobs for the Future, an educational and economic policy organization that works to create and shape policies that have a particular impact on low-income youth and young adults.

As a complement to his focus on small urban schools designed to promote college success, Dr. Nakkula partners with the Project for School Innovation to study best practices among small "second-chance" charter schools, which focus on promoting educational success and career preparation for students who are at high risk for academic failure and related challenges. Dr. Nakkula has also worked with Search Institute (Search-Institute.org) to study communities that have created unique applications of Search’s well-known developmental assets framework.

Selected Publications

Nakkula, M., Foster, K., Mannes, M., & Lewis, S. : Building healthy communities for positive youth development The Search Institute Series on Developmentally Attentive Community and Society. Peter Benson (eds.). Springer, 2010.

Karcher, M.J. & Nakkula, M.J., Eds.: Play, talk, learn: Promising practices in youth mentoring. New Directions in Youth Development. Jossey Bass, 2010.

Nakkula, M. : Transforming self control through peer relationships. Reclaiming Youth at Risk 17(4): 35-40, 2009.

Nakkula, M., Danylchuck, L., Miller, K., & Tamerler, K.: Promoting career development with low-income students of color. Compelling Counseling Intervention: Celebrating VISTA’s Fifth Anniversary. G. R. Walz, J. C. Bleuer, & R. K. Yet (eds.). Ann Arbor, MI: Counseling Outfitters. 2008.

Nakkula, M. : Identity and possibility: Adolescent development and the potential of schools. Adolescents at School: Perspectives on Youth, Identity, and Education (2nd Edition). M. Sadowski (eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2008.

Mason, M., & Nakkula, M.: A risk and prevention counselor training program model: Theory and practice. Journal of Primary Prevention 29(5): 361-374, 2008.

Nakkula, M., & Foster, K.: Academic identity development: Student experiences in two Early College High Schools. Minding the Gap: Why Integrating High School with College Makes Sense and How To Do It N. Hoffman, J. Vargas, A. Venezia, & M. Miller (eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. 2007.

Nakkula, M., & Toshalis, E.: Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Educators. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. 2006.

Nakkula, M.: Multiculturalism: Fourth force but top priority for urban school counselors. Multiculturalism and Diversity (Principles in School Counseling Series). S. Ravitch (eds.). Washington, D.C.: American School Counseling Association. 2006.

Karcher, M. J., Nakkula, M., & Harris, J. : Developmental mentoring match characteristics: Correspondence between mentors’ and mentees’ assessments of relationship quality. Journal of Primary Prevention, 26(2): 93-110, 2005.

Nakkula, M., & Harris, J.: Assessing mentoring relationships. Handbook of Youth Mentoring. D. Dubois & M. Karcher (eds.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2005.

Nakkula, M., & Nikitopoulos, C.: Negotiation training and interpersonal development: An exploratory study of early adolescents in Argentina. Adolescence 36: 1-20, 2001.